The Scriptures teach us that man is not an accident or the result of some mindless process, but the creative work of the eternal God. After God had created all other creatures, He formed the first man Adam from the dust of the ground, breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and he became a living being. From Adam, God then formed the woman Eve to be both a companion and helper to Adam. They were commanded to multiply and fill the earth which had been placed under their dominion. All mankind finds its common ancestry in this union of Adam and Eve.
Unique among all other creatures, only man and woman were created in the imago dei [Latin: imago, image + dei, of God] and granted the privilege of living in personal and unbroken fellowship with Him. The Scripture is also clear that they were created by God and for God and find meaning for their existence only in loving Him, glorifying Him, and doing His will.
These truths are of great importance for us in that they define who we are and the purpose for which we were made. We are not the authors of our own existence, but we were brought into existence by the gracious will and power of God. We do not belong to ourselves, but to God who made us for His own purposes and good pleasure. To seek to separate from God in any way is to sever ourselves from life. To live independently of His person and will is to deny the purpose for which we were made.
Note: God does not say, “Let there be,” as with the rest of creation (1:3, 6, 14), but “Let us make.” This communicates the idea of greater personal relationship. The phrase “Let us…” has been interpreted several ways:
(1) Some say it is a plural of majesty. They assert that it was common in the ancient world for royalty to speak as a plurality. One main problem with this view is that the Hebrew plural of majesty is used only with nouns—not with pronouns like “us.”
(2) Some say that God is speaking to angels. If true, this would imply that angels are also made in God’s image, something that is possible, but not explicitly stated anywhere in Scripture. Also, in v. 27, there is a singular Creator and not many: “God created” … “He created” … “He created.” This could not be if the ‘us’ referred to God and angels. Furthermore, in the final judgment, human believers are the judges of angels (I Corinthians 6:3), and it would be very odd for creatures to be judging their creators.
(3) Some say it is a reference to the persons of the Trinity taking counsel with one another. This last interpretation is the most likely, as we have clear texts in Scripture demonstrating that the creation does indeed involve the Father, the Spirit (Genesis 1:2) and the Son (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16). This explains the plural “Let us…” in v. 26. It also explains why there appears to be only one Creator in v. 27: God is one divine Being who nonetheless exists as three divine Persons.
Note: God did not say, “after their kind,” as with the rest of creation (Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24-25), but “in our image.” Humanity is unique among creation in that it alone is said to bear the imago dei. The image of God may refer to the following:
Personality: Adam and Eve were personal and self-conscious creatures. They were not mere animals driven by instinct or machines programmed to respond to certain stimuli.
Spirituality: The Scriptures declare that “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), and so it is reasonable to expect to find this same attribute in man who was created in God’s image. Adam and Eve were more than animated clay; they were spiritual, endowed with a genuine capacity to know God, fellowship with God, and respond to God in obedience, adoration, and thanksgiving.
Knowledge: In Colossians 3:10, the Scriptures describe one aspect of the image of God as having a true knowledge of God. This does not mean that Adam and Eve knew all that can be known about God—a finite creature can never fully comprehend an infinite God (Psalm 145:3). Rather, it means that the knowledge they did possess was pure or unalloyed.
Self-Determination or Will: Adam and Eve were created with a will; they possessed the power of self-determination, and they were granted the freedom to choose.
Immortality: Although Adam and Eve were created and therefore had a beginning, and although every moment of their very existence depended upon the kindness of their Creator, they were endowed with an immortal soul—once created, it would never cease to exist. The immortality of the soul should lead all men to consider carefully the awesome responsibility of self-determination. Since the soul is eternal, the choices we make will bear eternal consequences from which there may be no escape.
Note: Man and woman were given the privilege and responsibility of ruling over all creation as vice-regents of God. Their rule was not to be independent of God’s, but in perfect conformity to His will. Therefore, they were to exercise their rule with loving kindness for the benefit and care of a good creation and for the glory of God.
-The Truth About Man